One of the most anticipated rematches of the year takes place tonight at Honda Center in Anaheim, CA as IBF bantam king Abner Mares defends against Joseph Agbeko four months after their initial and highly controversial clash.
This past August, Mares, 22-0-1 (22), won the IBF belt by majority decision after repeatedly punching reigning champion Agbeko, 28-3 (22), below the belt the entire fight, aided referee Russell Mora, who never took a point from Mares and even ruled an obvious low blow a legitimate knockdown, likely costing Agbeko the victory.
Despite the universal condemnation of Mora's performance, it was Mares who, round after round, continuously fouled his opponent yet somehow the California based Mexican managed to skirt through the controversy relatively unscathed.
The consequences of Mare's actions could be delivered via the fists of Agbeko, who has vowed to prove that he will defeat Mares in a fair fight and who also probably has all the incentive he needs in order to apply a prolonged punishment to his rival.
Mares, however, is clearly a very good, quick fighter and at age 26, five years younger than Agbeko, who's main advantage against Mares will be an edge in stamina and punch resistance.
Agbeko gets stronger as the rounds progress and the Bronx based Ghanaian will likely lose the early rounds to Mares but is expected to come roaring back in the second half of the bout.
The undercard sees another world title bout as WBA bantam champion Anselmo Moreno, 31-1-1 (11), takes on IBO titlist Vic Darchinyan, 37-3-1 (27), in a battle of southpaws.
Panama's Moreno has made nine title defenses to date and at 5'8 will tower over the 5'5 Darchinyan, who's main advantage will be the experience gained in having been in 19 previous world title bouts, going 16-3 in those contests.
Moreno won't likely have the power to keep the aggressive Darchinyan off so he'll have to rely on boxing ability and sheer toughness to outpoint "The Raging Bull", not an easy task.
If Darchinyan can get Moreno backing up, it will be difficult for the champion to gain control of the contest but if Moreno can hold his ground and punish Darchinyan for his wide and sometimes wild punches, he should retain his title.